Long Island kids hit the music scene
"I'm B Weezy and I'm takin' off
Started my career at The Loft
Now I'm around the world, gettin' all the girls
I get the party started, started, started . . . "
Ben Weiss -- who calls himself B Weezy -- is a sixth-grader whose videos are produced by The Loft Sound Studio in Plainview, a venture launched in 2012 by Matthew LaPorte of Dix Hills and Donnie Klang of Levittown, both 28. The duo opened the professional recording studio to be a home to Long Island kids aspiring to be singers, songwriters or producers; they help with artist development and the quest to be discovered.
The Loft offers voice lessons, tapes kids performing in the vocal booth and does full-fledged videos, like Ben's.
In the video with the above lyrics, Ben falls asleep during detention and dreams about his run for president of the United States. The video was filmed at a mansion in Brookville.
JUSTIN BIEBER DREAMS
Previously unknown tweens and teens, such as California's Rebecca Black of "Friday" YouTube fame and Dix Hills' own Jenna Rose Swerdlow of "My Jeans" fame, have garnered millions of views of their performances, inspiring wannabes to shoot for the same star. And, of course, there's Justin Bieber, also discovered after he posted on YouTube.
"He's my idol," says Mackenzie Fistel, 12, of Muttontown, who has been taking voice lessons at The Loft for the past year. Her rendition of Demi Lovato's "Give Your Heart a Break" has had more than 80,000 YouTube views. As for a full-fledged music video, "she'll be doing one for her bat mitzvah in June," says mom, Robyn.
The Loft's biggest success thus far is Madison Beer, 13, who recorded a Bruno Mars mashup in The Loft's voice booth in February 2012 that has racked up more than 670,000 views.
Justin Bieber tweeted "Wow" about her to his followers, adding to her fame and resulted in her being featured on "Good Morning America" in July. She and her mother have moved from Jericho to Los Angeles to pursue her career; Madison is working with Island Def Jam Music Group.
"We're not trying to sell a fake dream. We would love it if it happened to everybody who walks in the door, but what happened to her is a one-in-a-billion chance," Klang says.
FEEL LIKE A POP STAR
It's an investment to launch a child -- singing lessons at The Loft start at $100 an hour; Ben's videos cost between $1,000 and $1,500. Ben's two- to three-minute videos are covers of famous performers' music with revamped lyrics. "We help him write, he writes on his own, it's kind of a collaborative effort," Klang says. Klang and LaPorte made a storyboard and hired videographers. Ben posted a video using "Whistle" by Flo Rida in August and videos using "Coming Home" by Diddy and "Suit and Tie" by Justin Timberlake in February. He records the song in the studio, then they record the action on location. "You feel like you are a pop star when you're here," LaPorte says.
Ben's friends are extras; Klang and LaPorte make cameos in the videos. In Ben's Diddy video, which he calls "B Weezy for president," Klang and LaPorte are teachers and then Secret Service agents. Ben has advice for others who want to go the same route: "Delete the bad comments. Those haters are just full of jealousy."
Seeing his completed work fills him with pride. "When I'm seeing it for the first time, I'm flipping out, 'This is so cool, everybody's going to love it,' " he says. "If I get signed by someone big, I'd do it my whole life."